How much time do you spend sleeping each night? If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you might experience fatigue, moodiness, and even depression. In addition, you may also suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Sleep is essential for our health and well-being. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
Deep sleep is a state of restful wakefulness. When we sleep, our brains go through a cycle of activity called slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the deepest level of sleep.
During this stage, your brain waves will become slower and less frequent. Your body will also release hormones that help regulate stress levels and keep you calm.
What Exactly Is Deep Sleep?
Deep sleep is the sleep stage associated with the slowest EEG activity during sleep. Because the electrical activity is synchronized, this stage of sleep is called slow-wave sleep.
During this stage, the neotropical neurons have low firing rates and produce slow waves with a very low frequency.
The first section of the wave is marked by a down state, where the neurons in the cortex are not active. Then there is an inhibition period when the neurons are quiet. Next comes an upstate, where the neurons fire rapidly for a short time.
This is followed by another down state, and then the cycle repeats itself. Slow-wave sleep is characterized by minimal eye movements, moderate muscle tone, reduced genital activity, and a lack of dreaming.
Deep sleep helps you recover from physical and mental exhaustion. For example, when you're sleeping deeply, you'll feel rested after a long night of studying. You can also benefit from a deep sleep if you're stressed out.
Studies show that deep sleep may decrease anxiety and boost moods. If you're looking to enhance your deep sleep, try taking magnesium supplements before bedtime.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in many biological processes. Some studies suggest that it may increase the duration and quality of sleep.
Why Is Increasing Deep Sleep Important?
Sleep plays an essential role in consolidating newly acquired memories. Deep sleep helps us remember what we learned during the day. We also tend to forget things if we are not sleeping well.
Declarative memory is a type of memory that involves facts, events, and concepts. For example, you may know your phone number or your address. These types of memories are called declarative because they are easily recalled later on.
Episodic memory is another kind of memory that is very useful. It allows us to recall specific experiences, like our first kiss or a vacation trip. Semantic memory is a type of knowledge that is stored in our brains. This memory is used to store general information like vocabulary words and definitions.
Sleep is necessary for all three types of memory. The hippocampus is a brain region that is responsible for declarative memory.
Slow waves are a pattern of electrical activity that occurs during deep sleep. These slow waves help consolidate memories into long-term memory.
How Can We Increase More Deep Sleep?
Your total sleep time should be at least 7–8 hours per night. If you are getting less than 6 hours of sleep, then you need to adjust your schedule. You may want to try going to bed an hour later every other night until you get back to normal.
Also, if you feel tired during the day, try to go to bed earlier. Try to avoid exercising right before bedtime because it can disrupt your sleep cycle.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed out, try to relax before bedtime. Do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to music.
A single dose of caffeine can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance. However, when consumed later in the day, caffeine will stimulate your nervous system and may prevent your body from naturally relaxing.
In one study, drinking caffeine up to six hours before bedtime significantly worsens sleep quality. Caffeine stays elevated in your blood for six to eight hours.
Therefore, consuming large amounts of coffee after three to four o'clock is not recommended, especially for those who are sensitive to caffeine or have difficulty falling asleep.
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can cause insomnia. If you're drinking coffee at night, try to limit your intake to one cup per hour. You may also consider switching to decaf coffee, which does not contain any caffeine.
Reducing Blue Light Exposure
Blue light exposure has an impact on your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep at night. You can minimize this negative effect by using apps like f.lux and redshift. Both of these programs adjust the colors of your screen depending on what time it is.
When you're watching TV or reading on a laptop, f.lux will darken the screen when it gets darker outside. Redshift does the same thing, except instead of changing the color of the screen, it changes the color temperature of the room.
Wear sunglasses that filter out all colors except red, yellow, green, and blue. Set your phone to automatically adjust its display brightness according to the time of day.
Turn off your screen two hours before going to sleep. Avoid using your phone after dark. If you must use it, keep it at least 10 feet away from your eyes.
Your body’s circadian rhythm works on a cycle that starts at sunrise and ends at sunset. Having a regular schedule helps you fall asleep and wake up consistently.
Studies show that irregular sleep patterns can cause insomnia and disrupt your circadian rhythm.
It's important to remember that sleep isn't just about getting your body ready for the next day. It also helps you stay mentally sharp and focused throughout the week. Getting enough quality sleep can help prevent depression and other mental health issues.
Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, fatigue, memory loss, poor decision-making, and decreased productivity. So if you're struggling with sleep, there are ways to help.